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Soundcraft Ghost or Ghost LE

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Skeetch, Sep 7, 2003.

  1. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Well, it's happened. I've outgrown my Roland VS1880 and am wanting to move on and up.

    I've been seriously considering the purchase of a used Ghost (or perhaps a new LE) and teaming it up with a HD recorder - Tascam MX-2424 or Mackie HDR-24/96 appear the front runners right now. I don't need the MIDI and mute automation capabilities on the Ghost at present, but may in the future.

    Anyway, anyone have experience or thoughts with the Ghost's? Most of what I've read about them seems quite positive.
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Either Ghost platform gets you all the bells and whistles associated with this console...except of course the lack of the midi-muting in the case of the LE.They are really the best console in the price range and offer extensive patching and routing as well as great EQ.The pres work better with the big power supply and a constant voltage to it in the higher range of its specs.

    I personally like the MX2424 better as a HD recorder.The mackie is a bit buggy for my tastes and have been limited to 30mb harddrives until recently.The HDR system comes with no converters or I/O which are a bunch more money. Search the archives for a thread detailing some of the major aspects of most of the available and popular HD recorders. I bought the Alesis HD24 to go with my Ghost and think its the best buy for the money.There is a new 24/96 version just out and theres a $199 firewire drive that allows you to simply remove your storage drive from the HD24 and drop in all your track files into whatever DAW you might be using...since the Alesis records everything in both wav and aiff format files.For the price difference between the Mackie/Tascam and the Alesis, you could buy a very nice mic or outboard compressor or pre....
  3. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Hi Dave, and thanks for the info -

    I looked at the Alesis as well and it's certainly attractive from a price standpoint. Problem is, it apparently doesn't have the depth of onboard editing that the Mackie or Tascam units have and I'm trying to do away with DAW's altogether. I have to work with computers all day long for the day gig and, while I have no problem bending them to my will, frankly I hate them and want to minimize their presence in my studio. I'm basically trying to go to a kind of "old school" setup - minus the 2 inch tape of course. Most of the reviews I've read on the Alesis say that, while the unit is solid, it's design philosophy was basically that the user would fly the tracks into a DAW for most of the editing.

    I've perused the Mackie's manual and it appears to have most of the editing features I'd find useful without having to use a DAW. Not sure about the Tascam's - haven't read through all of it's manual yet but I get the impression that one needs a separate WinDoze or Mac system to access it's editing functions. Is that correct?

    You're right of course that the Mackie requires additional I/O cards (at 350.00 a pop!). Does the Tascam come with the necessary I/O options installed? Wasn't sure about that part but I don't think it does.

    WRT to the Ghost, what's your impression of the onboard pres? I have some outboard ones that would be the "go to" ones most of the time, but I've heard the Ghost's are pretty nice. Again, thanks for any thoughts you have on this.
  4. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    I have a MDR 24/96..... and with the exception of a few odd problems with the clock screwing up (which i have come to understand is not unusual with the Mackie HD recorders) I really can't complain.

    If you aren't looking to tie into a DAW at all - the onboard editing functions are pretty decent and (IMHO) fairly intuitive. You also have the option of the remote controller - which actually gives you more functions than you have on the main screen.

    That having been said - the MDR 24/96 has been abandoned - so anything sitting on the shelf is dead technology...... although it has a replacement (the SDR24/96)...... I have been told that the problems with the clock screwups have not been fixed. (What i mean by this - I have performed a "cut and paste" and had the paste just dissapear in the mix...... only to find it playing somewhere else (sometimes early - sometimes late) in the song - however i have always been successfull fixing this with the undo commmand)

    If I were making the buy today - knowing what i know - i would probably go with the Tascam MX2424... same features as the Mackie, roughly the same cost per card for upgrades - but a little bit more stable from what i have been led to understand.

    Good luck,

  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I dont really need to edit too much...as an old 'tapehead' I still believe in best take makes the tape.And while some editing is nice for fixing a flat vocal here and there, its the very reason I didnt buy all the editing power of the Tascam or those freakin OS freezin Mackies.The Mackie is just a celeron OS and has never been debugged as far as I can tell.You say on one hand you want to get back to the 'old school' kind of recording, much like tape and then you talk about having a lotof editing power much like a computer.The Alesis is the most 'tapelike' system in that it is a destructive system.No virtual anythings and no clocking to speakof because of this.There is a bit of editing you can do and it doesnt require a computer to do it.Its a bit of a pain because of the small screen on the unit but is very easy to do.And for the price, if you dont need the outboard I mentioned earlier, then buy TWO of em and have 48 tracks.Wouldnt ever need to edit anything...Plus with a Ghost, you woulkd have plenty of channels at mix since its an inline console.A 24 channel gets you 48 at mix.

    As for Ghost pres.....There isnt much in its price category that are better.A used sidecar of maybe a high-end brand will get you 8 channels for the same price, but since you seem to want to move away from computer recording, this probably does you no good.The Ghost pres are accurate and clean and a bit sterile @ regular 117 to 119volts, house current.When you run the input voltage on the power supply up to 125 volts, they take on another life.They get creamy and you can drive the crap out of em with no 'bad' distortion, just like a Neve or something like that.I've learned to ignore the red lights on the inputs and simply look for the red on the recorder going in(digital distortion is BAD)...Ya really cant go wrong with these consoles.Be sure you get the BIG power supply.There were three models made and you want the PS-275 when you buy.
  6. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Rod -

    I'd heard that about the MDR's. Any info on whether or not thost quirks were carried over into the HDR series? Also, it seems the the Tascams require the use of a separate WinDoze or Mac machine to access the edititing functions. I'm still plowing through the Tascam's manuals right now so I'm not sure if that's correct, but that's the impression I've gotten so far.

    My preference would be for the Tascam, but not if I've got to have another PC in the control room to access the onboard editing. The Mackie will apparently allow a user to simply connect mouse, keyboard and monitor directly to it and away you go. Well, relatively speaking anyway. Nothing is truly THAT easy. ;)
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Skeetch....the MDR is a scaled down version of the original HDR...Mackie discovered that their base price was way too high when they introduced the HDR and so they went to a scaled down version.There is no editing options as far as plugging in the mouse and monitor in the MDR, though I've heard that real computer guys have gotten inside and modded theirs to be able to do this.Perhaps Sheet will jump in here and correct all this as he knows the ins and outs of these machines.
  8. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    Davedog is 100% correct....... on the back of the HDR there are ports for connecting the mouse and keyboard, and it also comes with a video card...... I believe these ports exist on the MDR but are covered up. In addition you also would have to install a video card.

    I spoke with a tech who works on these things and he said that in order to connect you would have to install the HDR operating system on the MDR machine - but that the system will not recognize the operating system as being correct for the MDR - and he believes that you would have to install the bios for that machine before it would work.

    He told me that he doesn't see any difference between the boards themselves....... but i have not seen them side by side myself.

    So with the MDR the only functionality you have is either on the face of the machine or through the use of the remote controller. Not with mouse and keyboard.

    However - if there is a way to get from A to B here - i would love to know it - turning my MDR into an HDR would create a better world for me to live in.

  9. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Dave -

    Yeah, I know I sound a bit conflicted with the old school/onboard editing thing. I'm still sorting some of that out myself, but I don't want "alot" of editing capabilities (mostly things like a few cut and pastes here and there). For example, I like the idea of v-tracks, but agree with you that the best take is the one that goes to tape (or disk). Autotune? F*** that. Do another take and this time sing or play in tune. Do the Mackie's or Tascam's even have that kind of thing onboard? I haven't seen anything in their docs that indicate they do, but I haven't gone through all of them yet. Neither appears to allow for the use of plugins (which I'm not all that interested in either).

    I've currently got an older HP laptop (PII/366) running Win2K that serves basically as a host for AcidPro 4. It doesn't get used much but works reasonably well when I need to add some "spice" from Acid. It doesn't have the horsepower to run any kind of modern DAW application and I'm not in a position to lay out even more cash on a new PC or Mac on top of what I'll be laying out for the board and whatever HD recorder I wind up getting.

    Here's what I am sure that I don't want:

    - the never ending rat hole of upgrades, computer hangs, driver conflicts, having to find a spot in my very small control room for even a small form factor case and its associated mouse, keyboard and monitor.

    For me, that's technology getting in the way of making music. Rather spend my time recording, not troubleshooting a driver conflict. If the Mackie's as buggy as you suggest, perhaps it isn't the way to go either. Think I'm gonna poke around the HDR forum and see what the users think too. I prefer Tascam anyway, but if it's gotta be hooked up to a PC or Mac to access its editing, that's a minus for me.

    Not sure if any of the above makes much sense, but that's where I'm at for the moment. Thanks for the info on the Ghost PS BTW, that's good to know.
  10. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    forgetting the keyboard, mouse, screen - the MDR has on board editing capabilities, including cut and paste, you can edit and delete pieces of a single track - thus if a bass note was a split second late - you can slide it back to where it belongs (to within a thousand of a second)... you can also do an insert to move it forward as well.......

    PLus you can do all of the other normal things that you would expect a deck to do.

    You do have the capacity to use virtual tracks on it - thus opening up even more to record on if you choose...... plus the editing is non-destructive - so if you screw up you can always go back.

    Seriously - if it wasn't for the little problem with the time clock - this would be perfect in my mind.

    And even with that glitch - i have not had to throw anything away that i have done.

    It's never occured during an actual recording - only in the edit mode.

  11. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Thanks Rod -

    I was reading some of that in the HDR's manuals about editing. I like the idea of having that capability. Hmm, maybe I don't want to go quite as old school as I thought. Plus, with the use of a KVM box I could probably share the mouse, monitor and keyboard between the laptop and recorder. Aw crap, I guess I really need to think some more about this.

    Was also just reading about the latest BIOS u/g for the HDR's (re: the 32G limit) not being officially supported for MDR owners. Any thoughts on that?
  12. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    I would be surprised to ever see it happen - i mean - i wouldn't waste my time developing anything for a technology that i had abandoned...... why would mackie?

  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The last statement by Rod is the crux of my bad appetite for Mackie.To abandon something before they ever perfect it, tells me they werent searching for any solutions to the problems in the first place.And while the HDR platform has its share of satisfied users, there seems to be a horror story to go with every successful one.If you want the do-all be-all hardisk system you should look at a Radar.Very spendy but very supported and sonically without parallel.All of your cut and paste functions exist in the Alesis.And its OS has been around for years.(adat)The newer SDR Mackie was again an attempt to recapture market share that they missed with the first two,MDR and HDR.Theres a lot of road recording being done with the Alesis simply because its capable and doesnt crash.
  14. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    you truly said a mouthfull.

    If i had the cash in my pocket right now - i would pick up the Radar in a new york second.

    I do not advocate purchasing the Mackie - although i am still working with it........ however i believe that if one purchases it - at least they should do so with their eyes open.

    I try to open eyes.

  15. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Well, consider mine wide open.

    WRT to abandoning a product or idea before perfecting it, I can say from personal experience that an awful lot of companies (audio and non-audio - including my own) are increasingly geared towards that. Seems to be a symptom of the quarter-to-quarter thinking that everyone does now. Too much focus on each quarter's bottom line and not enough on testing, quality and customer support.

    I want to thank you both very much for your thoughts and input. It's truly helpful, though I don't think I'm any closer to knowing which recorder to go with. I'd of course love to have a Radar, but they're prohibitively expensive at this point (gotta start buyin them lotto tickets). The Ghost seems a shoe-in however.
  16. vinniesrs

    vinniesrs Active Member

    Hi Skeetch. You may be interested to know that if you choose the alesis unit you will not be limited to any specific editing functions. You can place this unit in a network computer system where you can call info off the hard drives right into the computer. What this means to you simply, is that editing and processing, are only limited to the software package you purchase. IF I were to place my vote, it would be with the alesis. Take the money you save and purchase a nice mic, a pre, some beer...uh huh.

    Just a thought
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yeah Skeech, I forgot to mention that the Alesis becomes a server when asked....though it seems to me an easier route would be to have a bay open on the computer and simply drop in the drive caddy and all.....open as a drive # whatever...of course were back to the computer editing which is in fact all the Mackie is anyway.A rather basic one at that.
  18. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Dave -

    Just got to thinking about something on the Ghost - sorry if this an utterly boneheaded question.

    How do you handle click tracks? The desk itself doesn't have any kind of built-in click does it? Not seeing that in the docs.

    Also, talkback mic capabilities. I'm not seeing this either in the docs, but I haven't got all the way through them yet. There doesn't appear to be a dedicated TB mic jack.

    The lack of either of these wouldn't sway me away from getting the board, but I just wanted to be sure about these two items. Also, bummer that the phantom power switches for the channels are behind the meter bridge (if you have one installed that is).
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I use a Zoom drum machine for clicks(when and if I need it) the talkback mic is built in to the mastering section and can be fed to 3 different locations.And yes the phantom power switches are a bit awkward with the meter bridge...I have a 32X8 with the complete meter bridge...the extra channels are really nice....
  20. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Thanks again Dave. I'd love to have the 32 channel board but the 24 will just barely fit into my control room as it is.

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